Guest Post By: Daniel Sherwin
Being a single dad is a tough job that gets way less credit than it deserves. In addition to the challenges you’d expect from single parenting, dads have a few unique issues that sneak in from time to time to dampen the day.
- People assume the mom has a hand in everything good.
According to Adam Petzold, a single dad interviewed by HuffPost, anytime his son looks well put together, people automatically assume the mom had something to do with it.
- Everyone has an opinion, and it’s rarely in the dad’s favor.
While the number of single father households is on the rise, there is still a stigma that can be hard to shake. It’s not uncommon for strangers to make innocent comments such as, “You’re doing a great job for a man.” While well-meaning, most dads are never prepared for the way this hurts.
- Support is hard to find.
There are single parenting networks across the country. Most cater to women. Even when men are “welcomed” into the group, it can be awkward. This Forbes contributor and single dad says many support groups are openly hostile to men.
- Breaking stereotypes is tough.
When you think of a nurturer, you think of a woman…maybe a new mom, a grandmother. You wouldn’t picture a bearded, flannel-wearing, manly man. Society as a whole portrays men and women differently. Dads were once boys, who were raised to adhere to these same notions. When they suddenly become the one that has to change diapers, mend broken hearts, and listen as their children recount the actions of the playground bully, they have to learn to be gentle.
- No one understands why the child isn’t with the mom.
There is no denying the bias toward women when child custody is in question. The US Census estimates that women are awarded care and financial support by the courts 82.6% of the time. When dad winds up with full-time parenting duties, it brings questions about the mother…questions that can be hard to answer when your child is within ear shot.
Mental and physical toll
Single parents, and especially dads, report negative mental and physical symptoms at a far higher rate than their married counterparts. And despite the availability of mental health professionals, men are less likely to seek help, which goes back to societal expectations of strength. These mental and physical health issues have serious consequences on the family as a whole, as men who rate their health poor to fair tend to be un- or underemployed. Worry about money only exacerbates the issues.
While you can’t do much to alter people’s perception of your parenting ability, you can take preemptive measures to ensure your family (and your health) doesn’t suffer because of it. Start by discussing your situation with your children in an age appropriate way. Help them prepare for questions by other children and educate them that there are many different family structures, and yours is no better and worse than others.
Finally, learn to focus on your own needs in everything you do. As mental health advisors note, “The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing.” When you’re a single parent, the easy thing is to ignore the issues, but facing them head on and with a positive outlook may be the best thing for you and your children.
**Thank you Daniel so much for writting this peice, If you want to see more of what Daniel is writting you can check out his blog at www.dadsolo.com